How The CJI Impeachment “Boomerang” Led to “Wins” for Rahul Gandhi

Rahul’s decision to move the impeachment motion could have gone horribly wrong, but it took on a perfect trajectory.

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Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam

Politics is an innately volatile and risky enterprise. That’s why politicians like to play safe. But Rahul Gandhi’s decision to move a high-stakes impeachment motion against Chief Justice Dipak Misra was disruptive, double-edged.

It could have gone horribly wrong, as was evident from the avalanche of criticism it ignited when the idea was first mooted.

Within 72 hours, Vice President Naidu rejected the impeachment motion. For a while, it seemed that Rahul Gandhi had slung a scalding boomerang which could turn around and singe him.

But then, the narrative switched from castigating the impeachment motion to handling its fallout:

  • How should the chief justice respond when the Congress files its petition challenging the vice president’s rejection? Chorus of legal opinion: “He should effectively recuse himself, and not be seen to be influencing this matter in any way”
  • Whose bench should the matter be referred to? Fali Nariman: “The matter must go to the bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi, his effective second-in-command”
  • Since this imbroglio could last beyond Chief Justice Dipak Misra’s retirement in October, should it have a bearing on his successor? Deafening chorus, across legal, journalistic, political and general public: “No, there should be no supersession”. Fali Nariman: “The chief justice would be well advised to recommend his successor in accordance with the Constitutional Convention. Justice Ranjan Gogoi has to be named.”
  • And how would you react if Chief Justice Dipak Misra was given a government job after his retirement? Chorus: “No no no. That would damn both PM Narendra Modi and Chief Justice Dipak Misra in the court of public opinion.”

First: See how the burning boomerang has transformed into a navigated missile on a perfect trajectory! Prime Minister Modi will risk political opprobrium if he chooses to still go down the supersession route. Has he then been check-mated, stymied, even out-smarted? Has the impeachment missile created even more “wins” for Rahul Gandhi and the opposition? Yes, there are at least four more…

Two: Severe scrutiny of CJI Dipak Misra’s public record led to allegations – about complicity in the Prasad Education Trust case, about a forged supreme court administrative order, about a false affidavit given in 1999 to usurp two acre of agricultural land – being pulled out of the shadowy world of rumours on to parliamentary records. Understandably then, CJI Dipak Misra will have to deal with the fetters of severe public scrutiny on any action that he takes from here on.

Three: Unrelenting focus on Supreme Court reforms is mounting pressure on the government. Now the public knows that the central government has held up Justice KM Joseph’s appointment on a partisan whim. Protest has swelled over the government’s disingenuous ploy to create regional and non-merit quotas in supreme court appointments. It’s an unmitigated victory for this government’s critics.

Four: Judge Loya’s death has jumped out from the pages of The Caravan magazine on to mainstream media. Some of the unexplained, weird circumstances surrounding his death are now part of daily political talk, fueling contention and consternation.

Five: The Congress marshalled six major political parties to sign on the petition. These included such heartland titans (and forever Congress detractors) like BSP and SP, besides NCP, CPM, CPI and IUML. These seven parties added up to nearly 33% of the popular vote in 2014, more than the 31.34% scored by BJP under Modi’s tidal wave. So the “risky” impeachment motion may have become the catalyst of a potentially lethal adversary to Prime Minister Modi in 2019.

Read the complete story here.

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